In Bukhara, the hotel is the destination. With a lot of careless renovation and destructive touristification going on in the city’s public spaces, Bukhara’s privately managed bnb’s and hotels have become important guardians of heritage. Staying in a former madrasa or at the centuries-old mansion of a rich trader family will definitely add to your understanding and enjoyment of life as it once was in this ancient city.
Competition is strong here: last time we checked, more than a third of all properties in Bukhara had a 9+ review score on Booking.com (vs 8% in Tashkent). Prices are generally very reasonable and the value for money ratio is excellent, especially when compared to Tashkent’s accommodation. There are some splendid breakfasts on offer.
Many of our favoured places are small, consisting only of a dozen rooms or so. This means they tend to book out in well in advance, especially in the high season; we recommend you book as soon as you know your dates if you are particular about where you are staying.
Disclaimer: we haven’t been everywhere. There are definitely some great places that we haven’t looked at yet. Consider this a first attempt, not a final say (your comments on this format are welcome).
Final note: Bukhara is very romantic. Leave the kids at home.
90% of accommodation is situated in the historical centre of Bukhara. Unless otherwise noted, all of the places reviewed below have an excellent location. Those who fear a short walk through a underlit backstreet might prefer one of the bigger hotels right at the Lyabi-Hauz square or around the Kalon complex.
For everybody else: the backstreets hold the real life of Bukhara, and it’s where you will find most of the small historic properties.
Accommodation types and recommendations
Boutique hotels and B&Bs
Set in centuries-old mansions of rich trader families, these are the top places to stay in Bukhara for independent travelers in our view (together with the madrasas below). Minzifa Inn and Kavsar are both delightful in terms of atmosphere, service, rooms and breakfast: the absolute top in Uzbekistan.
Bibi Khanym is also outstanding, with each room adorned with unique frescoes and tilework by some of Uzbekistan’s finest craftsmen. Emir comes in 4th place, only because of its disappointing breakfast.
Komil sees itself in the same category as the 4 above (at least price-wise) thanks to its historic building, but the place needs investment; you can find better places at lower rates.
Madrasas are colleges where theology students are trained for a future as imam. They are little self-contained worlds built to close off the young men from the temptations of the outside world. Very atmospheric, but as hotels, it means rooms are not so big and windowless.
If that is not an issue for you: Amulet is a fantastic place to stay at the high end. Khurjin is a budget version of Amulet: highly recommended for the less pecunious traveler who wants to bathe in history (Mehtar Ambar is another option, we haven’t visited yet).
If you are coming in winter, these madrasas are a cosy choice: both have floor heating.
Homely places for the budget traveler
If you need a hostel, stay at Rumi. It’s not perfect but it’s the best we’ve been too.
If you want a single or double at a moderate price, Bukhara’s backstreets offer a bunch of good options.
- Nazira & Azizbek: feel at home with mama Nazira
- Sarrafon: another home away from home run by a live-in family
- Arabon: a third family-run warm nest. Rooms a bit more tired, but an ancient dining hall to make up for it
- Rizo: a bit more boutique, professional and upmarket, less of a family atmosphere. Depends what you prefer.
- Hovli Poyon: wonderful courtyard and ayvan but also popular with tour groups
- Chor Minor: big rooms and a lovely family. We’d rate it similar to the others, but the owners tend to price it a bit higher.
Perfectly fine options, with breakfast buffets and a touch of couleur locale in the design. But they are big, which suits tour groups very well. And most of them are new builds; there’s little sense of history. Malika, Omar Khayyam, Siyavush and Caravan all fall into this category.
It’s not what we think is the best choice for independent travelers, but if you mostly just want a big, comfortable room, we can recommend:
- Fatima: cannot say anything bad about this place. It’s a great choice all-round
- Kukaldosh: wins because of its stylish, minimal design
- Minorai Kalon: best view in town overlooking the Kalon mosque and minaret
The atmosphere is amazing. You are living in an ancient desert madrassa and it feels fantastic. The downside: rooms are small and lack windows – you are sleeping in a former cell for theology students.
- Amazing ambience
- A great eye for detail: for instance, the quality of their suzanis is markedly higher than what others have hanging on the wall.
- Heated floors in winter
- Excellent breakfast
- For this price, rooms are cramped
Arabon is in the same category of homely bnbs run by sweet-as-sugar host families as Sarrafon and Naziza’s reviewed below. Rooms are roomy, but not as cute as in the other 2; we think they’ll do just fine for the budget traveler, though. In general, we’d place it just below its 2 competitors, if not for its secret weapon: a 200-year-old dining hall almost on a par with the ones at Komil and Kavsar.
Located quite a bit outside of the historical center along a busy, dusty street, you would need a taxi to get around or your own transport. Although rooms are big with walk-in showers, staff is flaky and the place looks awful from the outside.
Why would you bother staying here? It’s got a swimming pool.
Boutique is a word that gets strewn around a lot in Uzbekistan without good reason. Bibi Khanym actually deserves this epitheton ornans: rooms are decorated with unique frescoes. Our mind was slightly blown by the Phoenix room’s stunning tilework above the bedhead, mirroring the tympanum on the Nadir Devanbegi madrasa. Breakfast is a cut above the rest as well.
The Phoenix room is not huge, but some of the other rooms are the size of dining halls. Negatives? Staff might give off a bit of a mechanical vibe compared to the warmth you are received with elsewhere, and the wifi is not great.
While the courtyard has a beautiful ayvan and the second-floor rooms have a window view over the domes of Bukhara (no balcony though), the Caravan is, in the end, a tour group hotel. Independent travelers will be left cold by its size and slightly annoyed at the jibber-jabber of German and French pensioners at the breakfast buffet.
It’s a family operation: teenage daughter Fasiya walked me around, she is as sweet as the rest of the family. The rooms are traditionally decorated but they lack the refinement of other properties in this price range. When we first reviewed this hotel, rooms went for 20$ and we considered it a good value deal. Following good reviews, though, prices went up; we now think you can do better for this price.
- The gumbaz (interior dome) is a real asset
- Very warm host family
- Spacious rooms
- No courtyard
- Rooms are not as stylish as elsewhere in Bukhara
The historic mansion taken over by Emir has been beautifully restored and now holds about a dozen rooms for 27 people in total. Rooms are big and the same goes for the bathrooms (unusual in these old mansions), and owner Volodya is kind and accommodating.
Groups like Emir, so that’s a slight negative, but the only real minus here is the breakfast: the breakfast room is a bit sad in the basement, and the breakfast buffet’s choice was not amazing, offering sugary cornflakes and soluble coffee. If they could fix this…
Modern, warm and with excellent rooms, this new build is a great choice if you prefer a bigger room over historical flair. Very similar to the Kukaldosh hotel, but decorated in a more “standard” way.
- Rooms are excellent all-round
- No historical value. Otherwise cannot find any fault
The Hovli Poyon Hotel could be a paid attraction. When he wasn’t attending to government business in the Ark or chilling in the Sitora-I Mokhi Khosa, this was another estate of the Emir Abdal Ahad Khan, who had appropriated it from a wealthy trader, claiming this house was too fancy for a mere mortal. Was he trying to upstage the king? The trader knew what was best for him and let the Emir stay while he built another, more modest home for himself.
The courtyard with its huge ayvan and the historic dining room are similar to what you can see in the Fayzulla Khodjaev museum. Hovli Poyon is mostly geared towards tour groups, though, and rooms are nothing special.
We recommend independent travelers looking for a historic property stay somewhere a bit more intimate, and visit the Khodjaev museum to have a look at its ayvan (or even better, just wander into Hovli Poyon, owners are very friendly and proud to show off their treasure).
Located some way out of town, the owners are messy and the rooms reflect that. The courtyard is ugly too and the cramped and dark living room had the tv blaring when we passed by. Not a winner.
Although the upstairs rooms have a balcony directly overlooking Lyabi Hauz, we were not very impressed with Kabir Hotel. The rooms are boring, (dare we say ugly?), the restaurant is in a dark windowless basement and the staff is tired.
Excellent value for money in this charming property right on Lyabi Hauz. The common spaces reflect the brickwork of Bukhara’s finest monuments, while the downstairs rooms are decorated in the traditional Bukharan style with niches and wooden ceilings. The historical dining room is splendid.
Upstairs rooms are decorated in a modern style, but to good taste. The triple deluxe is wonderful; sadly, the dark and heavy furnishings of the double deluxe are not in keeping with Bukharan tradition.
- Orthopedic mattresses
- Great value for money
- Free beer for lunch!
- Fantastic host family with very good English and French
- Deluxe double a bit of a letdown in terms of style.
If you want to stay in a madrasa but find Amulet a bit pricey, Khurjin is a great budget option, perfect for those who want to upgrade from a simple hostel. Evenings, the rooftop offers a place to chill with a view over the backside of the Kukeldash madrasa.
- Wonderful staff
- Very nice bathrooms
- Heated floors in winter
- Ortopedic mattreses
- It’s a madrasa: smallish rooms without windows
There are a few hotels in town with historic dining rooms in typical Bukharan style, but Komil takes the cake: it is very, very atmospheric. Sadly, there are a good number of minuses as well: we can’t call it a favourite. If you want the dining room, stay at Kavsar instead.
- Wonderful dining room
- Staff does not have the warmth we are used to in Uzbekistan. It’s hard not to get the impression that owners prefer a quick buck over a good guest experience.
- Not all rooms are up to the same standard: the property is in need of renovation
- Noise insulation is an issue
- Seems to always be slightly more expensive than other similar properties
The Kukaldosh is a surprise. Minimal and contemporary, but with respect for Bukharan heritage – perfect for fans of modern design with an ethnic touch. Those who prefer to bathe in Bukhara’s ancient history will want to stay elsewhere, but the rooms won’t be as nice; the hotel was newly built from the ground up in 2014, so there was no need to work around the sometimes awkward dimensions of Bukhara’s historic properties. Ask for a courtyard-facing room: less hot and more picturesque.
The Jome mosque next door is worth a visit. People tend to walk past, but it’s beautiful on the inside. Come during prayer time for the full experience. No need to be shy, you are welcome.
- Spacious, modern rooms
- Buffet breakfast
- No view from the rooms or the rooftop
This is a big property: you are likely to run into tour groups, especially in high season. Rooms are ok, but there is variance: we saw a twin that was spacious and smelled lovely and a double that was much smaller and a bit musty for the same price. The roof terrace has partial views of the Po-i Kalyon and the trading domes.
The Minorai-Kalon has the best view in town. Its open-air terrace overlooks the Kalon mosque and minaret. Best place for a sunset selfie bar none. In terms of finishing and ambience, the hotel definitely ranks as one of the classiest places in Bukhara. Its deluxe rooms deliver on that promise, but the bathrooms are tiny.
Minorai-Kalon is big, which means a lot of tour groups pass through, and behind the kind smile of the beautiful young receptionist this reviewer detected the shrug of cynicism of a woman overly used to herding chatty progenitors to their rooms and out of the door.
But if you want the view, this is the place.
Not to be confused with the Minzifa Boutique Hotel by the same owners (which we haven’t visited yet), the Minzifa Inn is a personal favourite. It does not have the dining room of Kavsar or the boutique rooms of Bibi Khanym, but we haven’t found a place to stay more koselig than this in Bukhara (Amulet comes close). Rooms are great and breakfast is outstanding, and brought to the table on the terrace in front of your room.
It’s a 5 minute walk off Lyabi Hauz through Bukhara’s backstreets. A plus to us but apparently a minus for some others.
Nazira & Azizbek / Sarrafon B&B
2 different properties by different owners, but discussed here together because they are so similar – we are not able to recommend one over the other.
Both are remodeled traditional houses set around a courtyard in a back street off the Lyabi Hauz. Both are run by seasoned hotelier families who have not lost any of their hospitality despite their experience; feel at home. Rooms aren’t huge but have all amenities you would expect. Breakfast is not amazing but not bad all the same. Perfect for couples on a budget.
New Moon is a 2-star hotel. Sounds about right. The rooms are underwhelming in atmosphere, the restaurant is not a pleasant place to sit, and the breakfast buffet is not up to Bukhara’s (admittedly high) standards. Staff is friendly and loves to teach you about Uzbekistan, but their English is not great. A place for tour groups on the cheap.
Rooms are big, the courtyard and restaurant are lovely, it could not be more central if it tried…but it’s a bit impersonal. Omar Khayyam is another perfectly decent hotel built with tour groups in mind. If you do decide to stay here, ask for a room in the old block. While the rooms in the new block are bigger, the style is a bit too matter-of-fact; rooms in the old block better reflect local Bukharan sensibilities.
Housed in an ancient mansion reputedly inhabited by Hodja Porso, an early student of Naqshband, Porso has sparsely decorated, modern rooms with all amenities. All the basics are there: good breakfast, friendly staff, pleasant rooms, lovely courtyard, excellent location. But somehow, it leaves us feeling a bit cold. It just isn’t that cozy. Oh yes, and noise insulation is an issue.
- All the basics are there: good breakfast, friendly staff, pleasant rooms, lovely courtyard, excellent location.
- The breakfast room is underground
- If you have noisey neighbours you will hear it all
- Wi-fi so-so
A good place to stay in the mid-range run by the pleasant Bakhtiyor, but a bit uneven in terms of rooms: some are more beautiful than others for similar prices. Rooms on the second floor, more spacious and decorated with suzanis and wooden ceilings, are much lovelier than lower rooms but similarly priced. Also: ask for the northside, it is cooler.
- Breakfast is tasty and varied
- Second-floor rooms are good value for money
- The courtyard is a pleasant place to have breakfast and tea
- The upper deck does not have great views
- First-floor rooms are cramped and less charming than those above
Operated by a family of real Bukharians, Rumi is a popular option for backpackers on the cheap. If you are not too fussed about practical details and hygiene, you will definitely enjoy Rumi’s warm atmosphere and big breakfasts.
- Breakfast is very big for this price
- Usable kitchen
- Best place in Bukhara to find other travelers to socialize with
- The philosophy of Rumi guides the founders. The next generation…not clear yet.
- Hot water in the shower is problematic. Shower could be just a trickle
- Dinner is overpriced
- Dorm beds are basic metal constructions or fold-out couches
- Generally clean but some might be disgusted by details like the lack of a holder for the toilet brush
Close to the Lyabi Hauz (but on the main road), the Shoxtut’s courtyard speaks of high potential. Alas, it is not realised. Rooms are plain white boxes with carpets that will get nasty soon, the breakfast is basic, and the receptionist was sleeping when we came in at 11am. New owners needed!
Siyavush is a big hotel aimed at groups. It’s a bit out of the way and the ambience is a bit impersonal – we don’t recommend it for independent travelers. It’s not a bad place to stay, we just feel you can do better. Rooms are not bathing in history, but they are very pleasant nonetheless. The buffet breakfast is opulent and the dining room is an airy respite for a reviewer who has seen one to many dark breakfast basements.
Not a winner in competitive Bukhara. The plants were plastic. The wooden ceilings: also filled in with plastic. The owner showed me around while smoking, entering the rooms in his shoes. I sat on a mattress. It was hard. “No, sit on the other one.” Indeed, it was soft. And while the breakfast might be top-shelf in Ferghana Valley, in Bukhara, I’d call it meagre.